The Distillers – Sing Sing Death House (2002)


The Distillers were described to me as a band that plays like Rancid with a girl that sings like Courtney Love. So obviously I was intrigued. And the description was delightfully accurate. The likeness to Rancid probably has something to do with the fact that at the time this album was released, the singer, Brody, was married to Tim Armstrong. And this does not sound incredibly feminist of me, but I have my suspicions that although she is credited with all of the songwriting, he probably had a hand in it. Either way, it’s for the best. Sing Sing Death House is a great album.

The album is punk at its simplest. Fast, loud, crashing cymbals, intricate bass lines (actually, the bass on this album really stands out, ringing clear and driving the songs), and of course, angry lyrics peppered with loads of swear words. I totally love when chicks swear in music.

Sick of it All kicks off strong and includes the A+ lyric, “I’m anorex cuz I won’t fucking eat.” I Am Revenant starts slow, but gets singalong-able towards the middle with cheer-esque chorus. The Young Crazed Peeling has fun lyrics, but is not the most interesting song musically. Bullet and the Bullseye has great shouting backup vocals. But City of Angels is the album’s single, and in this case I agree that it is clearly the best, most representative song. There is a completely appropriate use of cowbell (more cowbell!) and kind of an underlying flute behind the chorus. Very good for shouting along with the top down. And I love the way Brody’s voice cracks during it. The rest of the album kinda plugs along after that – not bad, but not remarkable – until Lordy Lordy. I think this song is super fun, and feels very punk in its sincerity. A great way to close the album.

Sing Sing Death House is a great summer album. Not a big think type album, but not candy coated boringness, either. I particularly enjoy listening on my ipod by the pool while reading trashy magazines. I recommend it.

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